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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Murder plot trial continues

Murder plot trial continues

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Seng Chenda, the wife of tycoon Khaou Chuly, is led into Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a hearing yesterday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court reconvened yesterday to hear a third round of testimony in the case of an alleged attempted murder plot involving members of two prominent families.

Seng Chenda, the wife to tycoon Khaou Chuly, and four accomplices have been charged with attempting to murder Suv Chantha, Khaou Chuly’s daughter from a previous wife. Suv Chantha is married to Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works.

All five accused have pleaded not guilty.

Yin Sophearith and Khorn Lak, both of whom worked as security guards for Khaou Chuly, gave testimony yesterday.

On the night of the alleged crime, June 13, Yin Sophearith said he was at his home with his mother and relatives, “who will come as witnesses to prove my innocence”.

Yin Sophearith said he had been seriously injured shortly before the alleged crime, seeking to cast doubts on his supposed role in the plot.

“I had suffered a serious traffic accident on May 9 ... and I was treated for my injury at the hospital for five days before being allowed to receive medical treatment at home,” he said.  

Like Chan Sokha and Neang Sinath, who testified in previous hearings, Yin Sophearith said his previous confessions were given under duress.

“About five or six police officials, including Excellency Sun Chanthol’s two bodyguards, beat me several times and slapped me in the face at my workplace, and then pushed me into their car to go to the Ministry of Interior police station for interrogations,” he said.

He denied knowledge of the attempted plot, he said, “but they threatened me, telling me that ... my arrest was following an order from Prime Minister Hun Sen”.

Khorn Lak, the fourth defendant to testify, also said police had told him that he was arrested on the orders of the Prime Minister. He said he hadn’t met Seng Chenda or Chan Sokha since he worked at Khaou Chuly’s condo in 1999.

“I deny all my confessions at the Ministry of Interior’s police station, which I made under duress and threats,” he said.

Pal Chandara, an attorney representing Sun Chanthol, said the pair were lying and exaggerating.

“I would like to request the court in the next hearing to allow us ... to show a police video tape while they were being interrogated,” he said.

Seng Chenda, who is accused of masterminding the scheme, took the stand herself and denied all charges when questioned by presiding Judge Sin Visal.

“I have been married to my husband Khaou Chuly since 1995 and I’ve never had any dispute with his daughter Lok Chumteav Suv Chantha or his other 11 children, nor have I ever even met Lokk Chumteav Suv Chantha,” she said.

The court will convene tomorrow all day to hear more testimony from Seng Chenda. The defence has called 16 witnesses, including Khaou Chuly.

Standing outside the courtroom, Khaou Chuly said the charges against his wife had been “fabricated”.

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